Maud Casey

Maud Casey is the author of three novels, The Shape of Things to Come, a New York Times Notable Book of the Year, Genealogy, a New York Times Editor’s Choice Book, and The Man Who Walked Away, as well as of the story collection, Drastic. She has received fellowships from the Fundacion Valparaiso and the Hawthornden International Retreat for Writers, and was the recipient of the 2008 Calvino Prize. She is an Associate Professor of English at the University of Maryland where she teaches in the MFA Creative Writing Program. She lives in Washington, DC.

Books and Lesson Plans

  • Drastic

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    Meet the college graduate working in a whole body–donation clinic; a young woman obsessed with Benedictine monks; a middle-aged woman who becomes a stand-in talk-show guest; unlikely friends who meet in a domestic violence shelter; a young girl and the father who stole her away to escape his wife's mental illness; a graduate student from a suburban family who believes her physical connection to the world is deteriorating. Casey explores how we survive modern crises of loss and love through the lives of emotional and geographic nomads. Each flirts with madness and self-destruction while reaching toward life. These simple gestures of optimism and vitality, gorgeously rendered, make drastic an unforgettable collection.

    Appropriate for grades 9 and up.

    Lessons on plot development, character development and point of view.

  • The Shape of Things to Come

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    Isabelle, a woman in her thirties without any of the trappings of a grown-up life, has just been fired from her job at a San Francisco phone company. Returning to the midwestern suburb of her childhood, Standardsville, Illinois, she contends with her dating single mother, a neighbor who once appeared on The Honeymooners, and an ex-boyfriend. She also becomes a mystery shopper for a temp agency, posing as a variety of potential tenants for newly built suburban communities to access their exclusive services. Enchanted by the possibilities of disguise, Isabelle spins a web of lies that keeps the world at a distance until she unearths long-kept secrets that force her to rethink everything she thought she knew.

    Appropriate for grades 9 and up.

    Lessons on point of view, character development, culture, and history

  • Genealogy

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    Meet the Hennarts: Samantha Hennart, a poet with writer's block; her husband, Bernard, obsessed with the life of a nineteenth-century Belgian mystic with stigmata; their son, Ryan, a mediocre rock musician; and their eighteen-year-old daughter, Marguerite, who is quietly losing her mind. A meditation on family, faith, and mental illness, Genealogy is an operatic story of one family's unraveling and ultimate redemption.

    Appropriate for grades 11 and up.

    Course lesson plans for Genealogy are currently in development.

  • The Man Who Walked Away

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    In a trance-like state, Albert walks—from Bordeaux to Poitiers, from Chaumont to Macon, and farther afield to Turkey, Austria, Russia—all over Europe. When he walks, he is called a vagrant, a mad man. He is chased out of towns and villages, ridiculed and imprisoned. When the reverie of his walking ends, he’s left wondering where he is, with no memory of how he got there. His past exists only in fleeting images.

    Loosely based on the case history of Albert Dadas, a psychiatric patient in the hospital of St. André in Bordeaux in the nineteenth century, The Man Who Walked Away imagines Albert’s wanderings and the anguish that caused him to seek treatment with a doctor who would create a diagnosis for him, a narrative for his pain. 

    In a time when mental health diagnosis is still as much art as science, Maud Casey takes us back to its tentative beginnings and offers us an intimate relationship between one doctor and his patient as, together, they attempt to reassemble a lost life. Through Albert she gives us a portrait of a man untethered from place and time who, in spite of himself, kept setting out, again and again, in search of wonder and astonishment.

    Appropriate for grades 9 and up.

    Course lesson plans for The Man Who Walked Away are currently in development.

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